In 2004 Maija Pykett became the originator of the fingerprint jewellery concept – a range of silver keepsakes capturing a loved one's fingerprint in silver forever. In this brief Q&A, find out a bit more about Smallprint - the world’s premier silver keepsake company - and how it got started.
Tell me about when you first came up with the idea of fingerprint jewellery?
I made my first fingerprint pendant when my son Dylan was just 2 years old and I loved it! Having his tiny fingerprint hanging around my neck when I went off to work each day made him feel close to me all of the time.
But it wasn’t until a couple of years later that it dawned on me that something I found so precious would be equally loved by other mums. I was stood in a queue waiting to have my second son Noah’s handprints taken when the penny dropped! I was continuously getting compliments on my necklace and I realised that every one of these mothers stood waiting would love to have the same.
How did you make this idea a reality?
Well, there was nothing like this out there at the time, so I had to start from scratch. I spent months perfecting my techniques and designing the range, the packaging and the branding. Right from the word go mums fell in love with it. And not just for themselves – they wanted cufflinks for proud dads and charms and key rings for doting grandparents. I’d created a family business for families.
So how did you come up with your logo?
That was the easy part! I found an exercise book from when I was about 7 and traced the letters I needed from my own handwriting!
You’ve grown your business through franchising, how does that work for such a personal product and service?
It was a no-brainer really, as it was the only way to maintain the personal service that Smallprint customers had received up until then. I really didn’t want to rely solely on eCommerce for sales. Since I launched the business in 2004, many companies have jumped on the fingerprint jewellery bandwagon, but most only offer online purchasing which means they only use moulds. Training jewellers to take prints and make jewellery to my same high standards wherever they lived, meant that our customers could continue to benefit from having a piece of jewellery that has actually been touched by their loved one. It also means that our customers can actually meet the person who is going to make their jewellery, see the pieces they have created and talk about what they would like to order. It doesn’t get much more personal than that!
So family remains at the heart of Smallprint. We now have a family of jewellers who have set up their own Smallprint businesses around the world. I say ‘family’ because that is what we are – a group of trained and skillful individuals, many of them mums themselves, all producing wonderful silver keepsakes for their customers. We are joined together by a passion for the very unique jewellery we make, handcrafting each piece with the same love and attention to detail that I put into my very first pendant.
When did you bring the Smallprint brand to Australia?
Australia is the second biggest franchise market in the world, after the USA. There's a huge appetite for the model and a real knowledge of how to make the most of a good franchise system. As a result, it was a logical first step in our international expansion, back in 2008. Our presence in the country has grown ever since and in 2010, Ian Peebles (husband of one of our franchisees) took on the role of Master Franchisee. Ian has overseen the development of our network on the continent ever since, from his base in Melbourne.
So what would your advice be for anyone looking to buy a piece of fingerprint jewellery?
If you can, have someone take your print for you actually onto the silver rather than using a mould. It is the only guarantee of getting the best possible print and and what's more your jewellery will have been touched by your loved one. And more importantly, go and see the jeweller's samples so you can see the pieces they have made. Smallprint jewellers will take the fingerprint and show it to you there and then to make sure you are happy. They will talk with you about what you want engraved and where (at no extra cost).
But can you order online if you want to?
Yes indeed. As our family of jewellers has grown, so has our range of jewellery. We now offer hand and footprints, drawings, writing and our Tender Touch range is a more abstract and stylish way of capturing fingerprints and they can be ordered online. We know some people can only shop online and we want to accommodate that, but even then you will know exactly who has made your jewellery.
A final word?
As our family continues to grow I would like to say a big thank you to all of our customers and I hope you enjoy wearing your Smallprint jewellery for years to come.